In early April, Ford recalled almost 392,000 of its Expedition SUV line and many of its pickup trucks. There has been a trailer brake control issue with these cars. When connecting trailers to these vehicles, the trailer should brake along with the car.
The recalled Ford models appear to have a software error that doesn’t send the proper signals to the trailers. The trailers are therefore not braking properly, extending the driver’s stopping distance and increasing the risk of a crash.
Affected vehicles include:
- 2021-22 F-150 pickups
- 2022 Expedition SUVs
- Maverick and F-Series heavy-duty trucks
- 2022 Lincoln Navigator SUVs
If you own any one of these models, you can take it to your local dealer for a free fix and software upgrade. Notifications went out to owners on April 18, so dealers should be ready to handle this issue by now.
Why Checking for Recalls Is Important
Auto recalls happen only when the malfunction is dangerous. For instance, your car’s manufacturer might fix or replace broken radios on a line of cars, but that problem is not cause for a full recall. Recalls happen when a car has faulty brakes, poor steering, risk of fire, etc. In severe cases, the recall could come with a “do not drive” warning. In instances where a fire is likely, recalls may come with storage instructions, asking drivers to keep the car out of the garage.
Recalls sometimes apply to more passive dangers as well. Dim headlights or brake lights, for instance, could justify a recall.
Furthermore, recall notices can be slow. When there is an issue, car manufacturers are careful to alert the press and release internet notices. However, it’s easy to miss these notifications. By law, the car companies must also directly contact car owners about the recall. These alerts tend to go through the mail, and the companies have many customers to warn. It can take weeks or even months for these notices to make their way to every consumer. Therefore, you should make checking for recalls a regular part of your routine.
How Vehicles Are Recalled
Generally, car manufacturers are good about self-regulating. They want to initiate recalls without the government stepping in. Otherwise, they can face costly consequences. For each unreported issue, or for each instance of lying about a severe problem, a car company can be charged $22,000. These penalties cap at $11,000,000, so car companies have a strong incentive to be honest about their products.
To avoid punitive fines, car companies have become experts at pinpointing issues. Most of the time, when there are dangerous defects, the company knows exactly which factory and line were affected.
When a defect slips past a car manufacturer, the government can discover it and help protect consumers. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) closely monitors car complaints. If it sees a pattern, it contacts the car company. Working together, the company and the NHTSA can diagnose the faulty machine and issue an official recall. Again, the companies are better off cooperating. If the NHTSA discovers the problem alone, it can penalize the car company for failing to stay aware of safety issues.
How You Can Check for Car Recalls
There are several online resources you can use. Simply locate your car’s VIN (vehicle identification number), usually found behind the windshield on the driver’s side, and plug that number into a recall website.
Two of the most popular sites for recalls are:
What If My Car Has Been Recalled?
Recall repairs are, by law, free. For up to 15 years after its sale, a car can be recalled and repaired. This is true regardless of a change in ownership. If you bought your car used, it is still covered for up to 15 years after its original sale. Many car companies extend free repairs beyond the 15-year deadline as well.
What If I’ve Been Injured by a Defective Car?
Manufacturers must release safe products onto the market. If not, they open themselves up to defective product liability. Companies may be guilty of a manufacturing error, where something went wrong during production. This might be the case with the Ford recalls. The software code may have been damaged, creating the need for a recall.
Product makers can also be guilty of a defective design. This means the product was made correctly, but there is something in its very construction. The software problem in the recalled Fords could be an example of a defective design. Perhaps the code and the program work as intended, but there was an oversight in the program’s architecture.
Finally, you can hold a company accountable if they mislabel a product. This means the company was aware of an unusual, unreasonable danger within its product, and it intentionally failed to provide the proper warning. If Ford knew that the software on its trucks and SUVs was faulty and didn’t tell its consumers, it could be guilty of mislabeling.
If you’ve been harmed by a defective product of any kind, contact an attorney. You may be able to sue the maker for damages. If many consumers were harmed by the same product, you may be able to join them in a class action or a multidistrict litigation case against the company.
For help with a defective product case, contact our office today. We can give you a free consultation, so call (602) 483-6114 or reach out online.